People aged 75 years and older, residents in care homes for older people, and those with weakened immune systems will be offered a ‘spring booster’ of the Covid-19 vaccine.
A second booster has been recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) amid concerns that protection wanes over time.
For some, it may be their fifth Covid-19 vaccine as elderly people and those who are high risk may have already been given three doses of the vaccine and a booster jab.
The NHS is expected to announce more information shortly and appointments will be made available from the National Booking Service soon. People will be offered either an extra dose of Pfizer or Moderna.
The health secretary has hinted that the NHS may rollout the spring booster for all adults eligible but has not announced concrete plans yet.
The JCVI has also announced that they expect there will be an autumn booster programme later this year, meaning that people at risk may receive a third booster in a few months, bringing their total vaccines up to five or six in the space of two years.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair of COVID-19 vaccination on the JCVI, said: “Last year’s booster vaccination programme has so far provided excellent protection against severe Covid-19.
“To maintain high levels of protection for the most vulnerable individuals in the population, an extra spring dose of vaccine is advised ahead of an expected autumn booster programme later this year.
“The JCVI will continue its rolling review of the vaccination programme and the epidemiological situation, particularly in relation to the timing and value of doses for less vulnerable older adults and those in clinical risk groups ahead of autumn 2022.”
Speaking last month, health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid, said: “Thanks to our Covid-19 vaccination rollout, we are already the freest country in Europe. It has saved countless lives, reduced pressure on the NHS and is allowing us to learn to live with the virus.
“I have accepted the advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to offer, from spring, an additional COVID-19 booster jab to people aged 75 years and over, residents in care homes for older adults, and people aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed. All four parts of the UK intend to follow the JCVI’s advice.
“Following the JCVI’s advice, I have asked the NHS to prepare to offer those eligible a vaccine from around six months after their last dose and they will set out further details in due course.
“We know immunity to Covid-19 begins to wane over time. That’s why we’re offering a spring booster to those people at higher risk of serious Covid-19 to make sure they maintain a high level of protection. It’s important that everyone gets their top-up jabs as soon as they’re eligible.
“The JCVI will keep under review whether the booster programme should be extended to further at-risk groups.
“This is a national mission – the vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones and I urge everybody to get your jabs as soon as you can. For anyone who is yet to get a booster, come forward to Get Boosted Now.”